New #Whisky Business Mystery and #Giveaway: Single Malt Murder by Melinda Mullet

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Abigail Logan never expected to inherit a whisky distillery in the Scottish Highlands. But in the first novel of an engaging new series blending fine spirits with chilling mystery, Abi finds that there are secrets lurking in the misty glens that some will go to any lengths to protect . . . even murder.

When Abi inherits her uncle’s quaint and storied single malt distillery, she finds herself immersed in a competitive high-stakes business that elicits deep passions and prejudices. An award-winning photojournalist, Abi has no trouble capturing the perfect shot—but making the perfect shot is another matter. When she starts to receive disturbing, anonymous threats, it’s clear that someone wants her out of the picture. But Abi’s never been one to back down from a fight.

Arriving on the scene with her whisky-loving best friend, Patrick, and an oversized wheaten terrier named Liam, Abi seems to put everyone in the bucolic village on edge—especially her dour but disturbingly attractive head distiller. Acts of sabotage and increasingly personal threats against Abi make it clear that she is not welcome. When one of Abi’s new employees is found floating facedown in a vat of whisky, Abi is determined to use her skills as an investigative journalist to identify the cold-blooded killer and dispense a dram of justice before he strikes again. But distilling truth from lies is tricky, especially when everyone seems to have something to hide.


About the Author

Melinda Mullet was born in Dallas and attended school in Texas, Washington D.C., England, and Austria. She spent many years as a practicing attorney before pursuing a career as a writer. Author of the Whisky Business Mystery series, Mullet is a passionate supporter of childhood literacy. She works with numerous domestic and international charities striving to promote functional literacy for all children. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her family.

 

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New Yoga Cozy and #Giveaway from Tracy Weber: A Fatal Twist

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Yoga instructor Kate Davidson’s life takes a chaotic turn once she agrees to not only be the doula for her pregnant best friend, but also play foster mother to two puppies. The chaos only gets worse when Kate finds the dead body of a philandering fertility doctor and Rachel, one of her yoga students, fleeing the scene.

Kate is convinced her student is innocent, and she sets out to find the real killer before her testimony condemns Rachel to a life behind bars. But her hands are full with caring for three dogs, teaching yoga classes, and gaining an unexpected crime-solving partner. If she’s not careful, Kate’s next yoga pose may be a fatal one.


About The Author

Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate Davidson and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. Tracy loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. Her first book, Murder Strikes a Pose won the Maxwell Award for Fiction and is a 2015 Agatha award nominee for Best First Novel.

Tracy and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house.

Keep up with Tracy

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Interview: Vamps, Villains and Vaudeville, a Jazz Age Mystery by Ellen Mansoor Collier

In 1920s Galveston, society reporter Jazz Cross is in for a surprise when she attends a traveling vaudeville show with her beau, Prohibition Agent James Burton, and discovers that an old flame acts in the production. That night, they find a stabbing victim behind the Oasis — her half-brother Sammy’s speakeasy — who’s identified as an actor in the troupe. When the victim disappears and later turns up dead, Jazz must help prove that Sammy wasn’t the killer. After a second vaudeville actor is found murdered, Jazz discovers that the events behind the scenes are much more interesting than the outdated acts onstage. To make matters worse, Sammy’s old nemesis demands that he settles a score and forces him into yet another illegal scheme involving the troupe’s money-making ventures. Can Jazz help solve the murders and prove her brother’s innocence—so he can escape the Downtown Gang for good? Vamps, Villains and Vaudeville is a historical Jazz Age mystery inspired by real-life Galveston gangs and local landmarks.


 

Excerpt:

 

“Please take your seats. The Villains, Vixens and Varmints Vaudeville Show is about to begin.” The master of ceremonies’ mellifluous voice boomed across Martini Theatre, and lights dimmed as a uniformed usher escorted me and Agent Burton to our front-row seats.

The society editor—my boss, Mrs. Harper—snagged two front-and-center seats to Friday night’s opening performance. No doubt the traveling troupe expected the Galveston Gazette (rather, me) to give them a rave review.

Well, we’d see if this dog-and-pony show lived up to its billing, literally. The MC gave a short introduction and a chubby clown paraded onstage with a spotted pony, a small terrier-mix perched atop its back. When the clown tried to coax the pup to stand on its hind legs, the spunky mutt refused to cooperate, while the audience laughed with glee….

I’d tried to beg off this assignment, but my boss always found a way to make me work until the last minute. “Vaudeville is so old hat,” I protested. “Wouldn’t you rather attend? It’s right up your alley.”

“What do you mean by that, young lady?” Mrs. Harper eyed me under her wide-brimmed floral Edwardian bonnet. “Are you implying that I’m an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy, not as modern as you young flappers?”

Yes, that’s exactly what I meant. “Not at all. I thought you’d enjoy the show more since I prefer moving pictures. I can’t wait to see The Jazz Singer!”

“Take your young man and have a good time. Besides, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

My young man? She made Agent Burton sound like a pet Scottie.

Sure, I was sweet on him, despite my mixed feelings: Did I really want to date a Federal officer with such a dangerous occupation? As the lone Prohibition agent in the “Free State of Galveston”—where mobsters mingled with police and politicians—I worried his days might be numbered. The Treasury Department could ship Burton off to a new town on an even riskier assignment. Worse, Galveston gangsters could gun him down any moment, just for doing his job.

During intermission, the MC announced a last-minute replacement for Dan Dastardly in the closing act. After the break, “Milo the Magician” took the stage, elegant in a tux, top hat and white gloves, and performed his requisite card tricks and rabbit in the hat….

The final act highlighted a short scene from The Perils of Pauline, featuring a dastardly villain wearing a black mask and cape trying to kidnap helpless, hapless Pauline. Twirling his handlebar moustache, the evil masked man tied poor Pauline to a tree while the Tom Mix character managed to chase off the villain, and rescue his beloved damsel-in-distress. Yes, the act was so corny and hammy that it was comical, but I enjoyed the melodrama of it all.

After the show, the performers gathered on stage, and as each act stepped forward to take their separate bows, the applause grew louder. When the Perils of Pauline actors appeared, the audience stood up, clapping wildly and cheering as the performers grinned and waved. Seems I was wrong about vaudeville: The appreciative audience gave all the actors a standing ovation.

Strange, I noticed the villain smiling at me from his vantage point onstage—or was he? Surely I imagined it…until he took off his hat and held it out to me like a rose, or a bribe. Then he gave me a bold wink—right in front of Agent Burton. Blushing, I did a double-take: Was the villain flirting with me? Or did he know I worked for the Gazette?

“Looks like the mystery man has his eye on you,” Burton teased. “Should I be jealous?”

“Dan Dastardly?” I laughed it off. “He must want a mention in the Gazette. You know actors and their egos.”….

As we left, I glanced at the stage and saw the villain staring after us, his arms crossed, looking puzzled. What did he expect—an interview? A bouquet of flowers? My phone number?


Q: Ellen, thanks for stopping by! Tell us about Jazz Cross.

A: Jazz (Jasmine) Cross is a rebellious society reporter determined to make her mark on 1920s Galveston, Texas. Her black-sheep half-brother, Sammy, owns a speakeasy and she’s dating a Prohibition agent, James Burton, and she feels caught between two clashing cultures: the seedy speakeasy underworld and the snooty social circles she covers in the Galveston Gazette. A lot of historical mystery sleuths are wealthy wives or socialites or related to royalty and I wanted to make Jasmine an independent working gal struggling to make ends meet and forge a career in a chauvinistic world—like her heroine, Victorian journalist Nellie Bly.

Q: How much of you is in Jazz? How would you feel about her if you met her in real life?

A: Sure, we do have somewhat similar personality traits since I’m a magazine writer/editor in real life, but I don’t have the stomach for hard news or crime stories. Of course I’d love to meet my characters! I do have a lot of sympathy for Jasmine since I know how it feels to be held back by higher-ups in the working world. You can’t always wait for a boss or someone to “give you permission” to act on your own or follow a lead or accomplish a goal—you might wait forever!

Q: Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?

A: Yes, I’m trying to show that Jazz becomes more confident and fearless, willing to stand up to her opponents and face danger without backing down. Also the men in her life, including the newspaper editor and her Prohibition Agent beau, are softening their stance on working women and giving her more room to grow.

Q: Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?

A: Tempting—I’m afraid they’d recognize themselves! So far, I’ve used composite characters with their own personalities.

Q: How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?

A: Since 1920s Galveston was a wild and crazy town in real life, I’ve tried to incorporate actual settings and local landmarks, especially ones that are still standing. Sadly, many places mentioned were destroyed by hurricanes or—in the case of the speakeasies—shut down by Federal agents and/or Texas Rangers.

Q: When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?

A: What a fun question! I’d love Jon Hamm or Matt Bomer to play Sammy, Ryan Gosling to play Agent Burton. For Amanda, maybe Jennifer Lawrence. Jasmine is harder to figure out… she has wavy dark hair and blue eyes—perhaps a cross between a Myrna Loy and Agent Carter type (feisty though not as fearless).

Q: What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?

A: Best advice? I once heard that it’s a good idea to read dialogue out loud to see if it sounds natural—and it works. Also to wait a few days or weeks to edit your novel so you get a new perspective.

Worst: Glue the seat of your pants to the seat of your chair. You get a lot of back aches that way! I’ve found that if I’m stuck, it helps to engage is some sort of physical exercise or mindless activity to keep your ideas fresh. I’ve gotten lots of ideas while brainstorming with my husband or friends at an outdoor café. I hate to be cooped up and only write when I see a scene or chapter unfold in my head. More fun and less frustrating than staring at a blank computer screen.

Also I tend not to outline my books in advance though I do have a general idea of overall plot. You miss a lot of possibilities if you stick to a rigid plot—I always work a few chapters ahead and jot down brief notes and ideas as I go along. Sometimes I get inspired by a new plot twist and keep writing to see where my characters take me. If I’m surprised by my storyline, I think my readers will be too!


About The Author

Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer and editor whose articles and essays have been published in a variety of national magazines. Several of her short stories have appeared in Woman’s World. During college summers, she worked as a reporter for a Houston community newspaper and as a cocktail waitress, both jobs providing background experience for her Jazz Age mysteries.

A flapper at heart, she’s worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising and public relations (plus endured a hectic semester as a substitute teacher). She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism and served on UTmost, the college magazine and as president of WICI (Women in Communications).

FLAPPERS, FLASKS AND FOUL PLAY is her first novel, published in 2012, followed by the sequel, BATHING BEAUTIES, BOOZE AND BULLETS, released in May 2013. She lives in Houston with her husband and Chow mutts, and visits Galveston whenever possible.

“When you grow up in Houston, Galveston becomes like a second home. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past until I began doing research, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s. Finally I had to stop researching and start writing, trying to imagine a flapper’s life in Galveston during Prohibition.”

Keep up with Ellen

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Author Interview: Tracy Weber, author of Karma’s a Killer

When Seattle yoga teacher Kate Davidson agrees to teach doga (yoga for dogs) at a fundraiser for a local animal rescue, she believes the only damage will be to her reputation. But a few downward-facing dogs are the least of Kate’s problems when an animal rights protest at the event leads to a suspicious fire and a drowning.

The police arrest a woman claiming to be Kate’s estranged mother and charge her with murder. To prove her innocence, Kate, boyfriend Michael, and German shepherd sidekick Bella dive deeply into the worlds of animal activism, organizational politics, and the dangerous obsessions that drive them. All while discovering that when it comes to murder, there’s no place like hOMe.


KARMA

Q: Karma’s a Killer is the third installment in the Downward Dog series. Can you tell us what the series, and the newest book, is about?

A: The Downward Dog Mysteries are lighthearted, happily-ever-after, human-animal love stories. Oh, did I mention that there are a few dead bodies tossed around for good measure?

Karma’s a Killer opens at a fundraiser for DogMa, a fictional Seattle animal rescue. While teaching a Doga (yoga for dogs) class, yoga teacher/sleuth Kate Davidson meets an animal rights activist named Dharma, who claims to be the mother that abandoned Kate thirty years earlier. The next day, Dharma is arrested for murdering a fellow animal rights activist. To prove Dharma’s innocence, Kate, her boyfriend Michael, and her German shepherd sidekick Bella dive deeply into the worlds of animal activism, organizational politics, and the dangerous obsessions that drive them.

And if solving a murder weren’t complicated enough, Kate will also have to decide whether or not to reconcile with Dharma. Not to mention having to contend with an almost-bankrupt animal rescue, a cantankerous crow, an unwanted pigeon houseguest, and a rabbit in a doga class. What could possibly go wrong?

Q:  Do you use incidents from your yoga teaching for your books? Perhaps with names and details changed?

A: Not many. Yoga class is like confession: there’s an implied level of confidentiality. But even experienced yoga teachers sometimes teach the class from hell. The class in which everything goes wrong. You say right when you mean left; you say big toe when you mean bicep. You step on students’ hands and cell phones go off during Savasana. Then you look down to realize—or in my case, a student tells you—that your pants are not only unzipped, they are also on inside out.

A few of those classes have made it into my stories, usually when Kate is thinking about murder when she should be focused on teaching. If Kate truly embarrasses herself while teaching in my stories, I likely did something similar in real life. My teaching foibles make for great comic relief.

Q: Is there really such a thing as “doga?”

A: There is indeed, though I don’t really think of it as yoga for dogs. I would call it yoga for humans with their dogs. Meaning humans practice yoga in the presence of their dogs. They occasionally use the dogs as props and do a few human-assisted dog stretches for good measure. For awhile, there was even a Doga studio in Seattle, though I can’t find it anymore. My German shepherd, Tasha, doesn’t get along well with other dogs, so we can’t take Doga classes. I did most of my research for the Doga scene in Karma’s a Killer online. If you want to check Doga out, Amazon has some interesting-looking books on Doga.

Q: How did you get involved in yoga? Would you recommend it someone who’s only dabbled in ten-minute quick yoga workouts? Convince me that I should try it. 

A: I came to yoga for relief from a chronic back injury. Due to a car accident, I had been in pain every day and unable to turn my head for seven years. I left my first yoga class firmly believing that the definition of the word “yoga” was “much pain.” But even though my body felt worse after class, my mind felt calmer. So much calmer that I kept going.

Eventually I found Viniyoga, the style of yoga that I teach. For the first time ever, both my mind and my body felt better at the end of class. After practicing for about a year, I realized that I wasn’t in pain most days, and that I could turn my head again. My body felt significantly healthier, and I was calmer and happier.

I quit my high-tech job at Microsoft and opened my yoga studio, Whole Life Yoga. And yes, I would recommend the right yoga practice for everyone. Make sure you find a qualified teacher in a style that fits the needs of your body. There are a gazillion yoga styles out there, and they are about as similar as gravel and marshmallows. If you don’t like the first class you try, try another.

Q: This is your third book in the series. Where do you allow your characters to evolve, and what will you keep constant?

A: Like most of us, my characters will make mistakes and learn from them in each book. Kate, especially, has a lot of growth left inside her. Tiffany may even surprise us. It will be interesting to see Rene evolve as she becomes a mother.

But my characters won’t change who they are at their core, and I don’t foresee changing any committed relationships. Kate needs some stability in the midst of all that chaos! Bella will continue to mature, but I won’t let her grow old and infirm. That would simply be too hard.

Q: For the other writers reading this: Give us one great tip!

A: Don’t give up! Writing is a TOUGH business. No one gets published without facing rejection or receiving negative reviews. When I was trying to land an agent, I allowed myself 24 hours to feel bad about every rejection, then I forced myself to do something proactive. Send out another letter, connect with another author, write another page. I try to do the same thing when I get the (thankfully rare) negative review.

You can’t please everyone, and yet when you write, you so desperately want to. (At least I do.) Just keep writing what you love and know that your work isn’t defined by what any one person thinks of it.

Above all else, have fun! If you have fun on your writing journey, you will be successful—even if you never make it to The New York Times Bestseller list.


About The Author

Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate Davidson and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. Tracy loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. Her first book, Murder Strikes a Pose won the Maxwell Award for Fiction and is a 2015 Agatha award nominee for Best First Novel.

Tracy and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house.

Keep up with Tracy

Website | Facebook | Whole Life Yoga | Twitter | Goodreads 


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